China slaughters poultry as bird flu toll grows

China slaughters poultry as bird flu toll grows

PanARMENIAN.Net - A sixth person has died in China from a new strain of bird flu - while all poultry was slaughtered at a Shanghai market where the virus was detected in pigeons being sold for meat, Belfast Telegraph said.

The mass bird killing is the first so far as the Chinese government responds to the H7N9 strain of bird flu, which has made 14 people ill, many critically, along the eastern coast in its first known infections of people. The first cases were announced last Sunday, March 31.

Health officials believe people are contracting the virus through direct contact with infected fowl and say there has been no evidence so far that the virus is spreading easily between people. However, scientists are watching closely to see if the flu poses a substantial risk to public health or could potentially spark a global pandemic.

The agriculture ministry confirmed late on Thursday that the H7N9 virus had been detected in live pigeons on sale at a produce market in Shanghai.

Experts urged Chinese health authorities to keep testing healthy birds, saying the H7N9 virus can infect birds without causing disease, making it harder to detect than the H5N1 bird flu virus that is more familiar to Asian countries. H5N1 set off warnings when it began ravaging poultry across Asia in 2003 and has since killed 360 people worldwide, mostly after close contact with infected birds.

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